5 Frames… Of the apocalypse that never came (Holga 400 / 35mm Format / EI 400 / Canon A1) – by Mark John Hiemstra

Written by and published on .

I panicked. A couple of months ago, I saw the apocalypse coming, and I ordered about $500 of film. I mostly bought film stocks I’d never shot before and then stocked up on some basics, like Kodak Gold 200, Fujicolor Pro 400H, Kodak Tri-X, that kind of thing.

Along with those, I also bought a roll of Holga 400 35mm film.


Fortunately, the apocalypse has not come, and I’ve even been able to get out and walk with a friend who also loves photography.

He’d been telling me about this spot not far from where I live where there’s an alleyway that’s more of a European style than we’d generally see here in Montreal. A small lane with doorways to what I can only assume are smaller-than-average homes, and a delightful little garden.

I loaded the Holga 400 into my Canon A1 and along with my Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens, off we went.

We arrived at the spot he’d told me about just at twilight with the sun still in the sky, but making its way out of view at a rapid pace.

And this is the kind of night I love. The kind where I go to take another shot and realize that I’ve already blasted through an entire roll of film without realizing. I was certain I had more shots. Not the case. Everything I looked at seemed interesting and knowing that I was just experimenting with this film gave me a little more freedom to snap pictures of ways that I might not normally do.

Once done, I ran home and immediately developed this roll. I used the Ansel Adams method that Covington talks about in this post. HC-110 dilution G (syrup 1:119) at 18 minutes, agitating for the first minute, and then subsequently for 15 seconds every three minutes.


This was also experimental for me, as I’ll usually just use dilution B and whatever timing is recommended for the film I’m developing. What I’d hoped, though, was that I’d be able to bring out some more of the shadows, especially since I’d shot these in relatively low light.

The results definitely exceeded my expectations. I really love how it brought out the darkness of the woods and the bushes. I’m not sure there would have been a better film for this spot at this time of day. And it makes me wish that I’d bought more Holga 400 in my panicked purchasing spree.

I’ll certainly want to experiment more with this film and see what else I can capture with it. For the time being, I’m quite pleased with how this roll worked out.

~ Mark

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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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